Today we’d like to introduce you to Abby Kragh.
Hi Abby, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
My story started with a Disney College Program in 2017. I loved my job, but my favorite part wasn’t actually related to my role. I loved standing outside of my work location and chatting with families about their trips.
After hearing about their day so far and what they had enjoyed, I would give them must-dos that I thought they would enjoy and make little magical moments like treating them to Mickey ice cream or a stuffed animal.
When the time came for my internship to end came along, I knew that I couldn’t stop making magic for others, but that I needed to go home to finish school (I was transferring to Towson University that semester).
A few weeks before my contract with Disney ended, I interviewed with a travel agency for a role as an agent and was offered a job on the spot. I was thrilled! What I wasn’t expecting was that the company basically handed me the training Disney provides and said “go sell vacations.”
For reference, I was 20 years old and had no network to rely on for those initial bookings. I taught myself all about social media and how to maximize different platforms to bring in leads. At first, I found really great success with Facebook groups and my YouTube channel, but later my other platforms started growing much faster and my focus shifted.
After 2 years with that first company, I realized that I really wasn’t getting any benefit from them – there was no training, the environment was toxic, and we had no connections to other resources. Another agent was frustrated by this as well and so we decided to start our own agency.
Friend Like Me Travel Co. officially opened on October 1, 2019. For the first few months, I was running the company from my college classes before graduating with a degree in International Studies in December of that year.
Over the course of two years, our team grew by leaps and bounds and my own social media following exploded and so did my client base. It became clear that my business partner and I were not a good match – I was much more serious about building the business than she was and we had different ideas for how our team should be run.
I ended up buying her out in November of 2021. The shift in the company has been absolutely incredible – the team is more motivated than ever, many of our agents have sold more in the last six months than they did in all of last year, and clients AND new agents are coming to us because they’ve heard such great things about our company.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has not! October 1, 2019, was six months before the global pandemic started.
Our agents were all brand new to the industry and it was important to me that we didn’t let the pandemic crumble what we had built. I knew that no one would be selling much travel in those first few months, so I wanted to make sure our agents still had something to work towards.
We shifted the focus to training and personal growth so that when people were ready to travel, we would be knowledgeable and ready to help. I saw many agencies fall and people get burned out and leave the industry. I am so proud to say that because of the approach we took, we didn’t “lose” anyone to the pandemic. We still continued to see growth in sales even with all that was going on and truly came out stronger in the end.
Another challenge that I was not expecting was having to rebuild the team. When I bought out my business partner, she recruited more than half of the team I had built to her new agency. I went from having 67 agents to about 24. Luckily, 7 months later our team is larger than it’s ever been at 82 agents.
I changed our hiring process and made it much more in-depth to weed out people who weren’t serious about the position (which was largely the sort of agent that left after the split.) My social media following is always eager to apply when I open applications and so I was able to rebuild quickly.
As you know, we’re big fans of Friend Like Me Travel Co. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
Friend Like Me Travel Co. is here to help you see the world.
While our first love is Disney destinations, we have a large client base in cruises and all-inclusive vacations as well. When a guest comes to us, they often feel overwhelmed and stressed out by the vacation planning process – after all, there are so many things to consider!
Piecing together a vacation package and itinerary is not for the faint of heart. During the planning process, we keep the guest informed but do so at a pace that presents the right information at the time that they need it so that they are excited and well-informed about their trip.
When you are investing thousands of dollars into a trip, using a travel professional is an easy step that you can take to protect your investment.
I am constantly blown away by our Genies (agents) and the care they show for their guests every day. They fight tooth and nail for clients when things go wrong and many love planning with us so much that they either have several trips booked at a time OR go on to apply to work for us.
I feel as though both of those factors show the dedication we have to our guests and how highly they think of us.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
Although it would have been great to have some more training from that first agency, I truly feel that I am a better agent and leader because I had to learn it all for myself. Because of that experience, I understand what was most important to learn, and when in your journey as an agent it’s important to develop certain skills.
From there, I was able to develop an in-depth training program for our new agents – the performance of the agents who have gone through this program versus the agents that didn’t have it is incredible. It really shows how important in-depth training is when you are first starting out!
If you’re just starting out, you need to find an agency that will support you not only with its training but with its company culture. I know that everyone says this, but there is something very special about having a work family and I’m proud to say that it’s something we’ve been able to create.
Look for someplace that will celebrate you and support you and wants you to grow both personally and professionally. That sort of work environment will really help you thrive as long as you’re willing to contribute to the team.
You should also make sure that you are joining a company with a leader that is successful in the industry AND willing to help you to replicate that success.
- Our agents each develop their own planning packages. but the average price ranges start at $300 to $550 depending on the level of services you need for your vacation.
- Website: https://friendlikemetravel.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/happilyeverabbyy/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/happilyeverabby
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/happilyeverabby
- Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@happilyeverabby